Asus TP300LA – Introduction
Price: $799CAD $649 USD
Warranty: 12 Months with ADP
The line between laptops and tablets is getting blurry. No longer do you have to make the decision between bringing a tablet with reduced functionality or a big laptop that’s heavy and cumbersome.
Enter the Asus Transformer Book Flip TP300LA, a power sipping 13.3″ convertible laptop with a muti-point touch screen and all the power you could need on the go. Packing Intel’s newest Haswell processors and endless configuration options for just about every component, Asus covers any mobile users requirements.
Competing with the specifications of a MacBook Pro at nearly double the price, Asus has sights on winning over users looking at getting more for less. Has Asus managed to build something worthy of competing with the more expensive options or is this convertible laptop just a flop? Read on to find out what we think.
Asus TP300LA – Specifications
Asus TP300LA – Unboxing
Asus has followed their typical box scheme once again, with a simple product picture alongside with the model name. Simple, but very effective for someone who might see it on a store shelf. The back of the box has a sticker outlining the Transformer Book Flip’s one year warranty. The great thing is that the TP300LA falls under Asus’ Accidental Damage Plan (ADP), meaning stuff like drops, liquid spills, power surges, and even fire damage, are not going to nullify your warranty. Both the back and one side have a black sticker that lists all of the important numbers, such as model number and serial number.
Opening the box we are greeted by the laptops beautifully brushed black metal lid and shiny silver Asus logo. Asus has gone with a full cardboard packaging that seems to hold the laptop in place well. Below the TP300LA is a compartment that houses the AC adapter, various warranty pamphlets, and…that’s it. As usual Asus’ low prices are reflected in their lack of accessories.
On the topic of the AC adapter, the unit that came with the TP300LA is model AD883J20, outputting 19V at 2.37A.
Asus TP300LA – Closer Look
Asus has packed our TP300LA with an Intel Core i5-4210U processor. The other available options are the Core i3-4030U or Core i7-4510U, which gives you a choice to match any of your requirements. The 4210U has its two hyper-threaded cores clocked at 1.7 GHz, reaching a maximum of 2.7 GHz when Turbo Boost kicks in. With a maximum TDP of just 15W we should expect battery usage to stay at a minimum.
On the memory front our unit is packing 6GB of DDR3L 1600 MHz RAM. In the various configurations offered by Asus, you can get up to 12GB of RAM. Since DDR3L runs at a paltry 1.35V, that should also help with power usage.
Asus once again has given you piles of options to fit your storage needs. For our model in particular, we have a Toshiba MQ01ABF050 hard drive with a capacity of 500GB and spins at 5400RPM. Other options include a 750GB HDD at 5400RPM, 1TB HDD at 5400RPM, and a 128GB SSD. Asus has decided to partition the hard drive from the factory, with the “OS” partition at 186GB and the “Data” partition at 258GB. This is a great idea as you can do a full Windows 8 restore on only the OS partition while keeping the Data partition intact.
As mentioned earlier in the review, Asus has fitted the top lid of the TP300LA with a black brushed metal finish. Sunlight changes that a bit and gives it a much lighter look as seen here, but it can’t hide the mind boggling amount of fingerprints that the lid collects. The bottom of the laptop also suffers a bit from fingerprint magnetism, but thankfully to a lesser degree. Asus decided to keep the bottom of the laptop plastic as opposed to the aluminum body that we’ll see more of later. On the bottom you will find a row of intake holes, four rubber feet, and the two stereo speakers facing outwards on the angled edges.
Moving along to the edges of the TP300LA, we see that Asus has provided quite a few ports to cover most everybody’s needs. Starting on the left, we have a Kensington lock hole, a USB 2.0 port, SD card reader, Windows button, volume up and down, and power. The Windows button is a nice touch and especially useful when you’re running the TP300LA in tablet mode. Moving onto the right side you get a combination headphone/microphone port, two USB 3.0 ports, HDMI 1.4 port, and DC in. The front sports three status LEDs, while the back is reserved solely for the 360 degree hinge.
The main disappointment here is that Asus has left out Ethernet completely. Not only is there no integrated port, there isn’t a USB adapter included in the box. Granted they aren’t very expensive to buy, but I feel Asus could have included one to cover all of their users bases.
Asus TP300LA – Keyboard and Trackpad
The TP300LA serves up a chiclet style, ten-keyless, non-backlit keyboard housed in an aluminum body. The keyboard has a wonderful overall feel to it due to the great travel time and well spaced keys. The keys themselves feel a bit plasticky but they are solid and do not wobble.
The trackpad is also quite nice for a laptop in this price range. The aluminum around the trackpad has been beveled and creates a near seamless edge. The trackpad is centered and spaced perfectly from the keyboard, meaning you’re pretty safe from having your palm touching accidentally. Tracking is accurate and recognizes gestures almost every time. The only negative thing I can say about it is that trying to physically click anywhere other than the bottom area is quite difficult and usually ends up with the cursor somewhere other than where you left it.
Asus TP300LA – Screen and Heat
Depending on the TP300 model you choose, you will have either an HD (1366×768) TN panel or an FHD (1920×1080) IPS panel. In our review model, the DB51T-CA, we have the former. Both options run alongside a 10 point touch panel that we’ll touch on shortly.
As you can quite obviously see in this picture, Asus has gone with a very glossy screen for the TP300LA. For a TN panel, it outputs a very vibrant and colourful picture. Vertical FOV is abysmal as expected, but horizontal is quite good at about 170 degrees before discolouration sets in. In direct sunlight it can be quite difficult to see anything, but the adaptive brightness does work well to help fight that as best as possible.
As you would expect with this level of glossiness, fingerprints are a huge issue.
Here we finally touch on the main selling point of this laptop. Asus has built the laptop on a large hinge that rotates a whole 360 degrees. You can use the laptop in a traditional orientation, angled with the keyboard down to have a tablet-like experience without having to hold it, or even folded all the way around the back for the full tablet mode. The hinge itself is nothing short of amazing as it manages to hold the screen steadily at any angle.
I know when I first saw this unit my mind had started wondering, “How does the tablet mode work when my hands are going to inadvertently be pressing keys on the keyboard?” Asus of course thought of that beforehand and has included a piece of software that they call “FlipLock”. Automatically, the trackpad and keyboard are disabled when the built-in accelerometer notices the change in orientation. I’m happy to say it does work as intended, although it’s cumbersome having a nearly 4 pound tablet with a keyboard facing outwards.
The reason I added heat to this section is because Asus decided they would exhaust hot air right at the hinge. I can’t see why they chose this route with so much empty real estate on the sides of the laptop, but it doesn’t seem to matter much as the TP300LA keeps cool with the lack of a dedicated GPU. I would be worried with the TP300LD model however as there would probably be a lot more heat dumping out of those vents.